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09-23-2009

MIT Chemist to Speak at Clarkson University on How Basic Research Led to His Nobel Prize

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/schrock.jpg ]

Renowned Nobel Laureate Richard R. Schrock will deliver the two lectures of Clarkson University’s 15th Annual Shipley Distinguished Lectureship, October 5 and MIT Chemist to Speak at Clarkson University on How Basic Research Led to His Nobel Prize6. Schrock is the Frederick G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Schrock will speak about "How Basic Research Led to a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2005" on Monday, October 5, at 4:15 p.m. in Science Center Room 360.

He will then present "Catalytic Reduction of Dinitrogen by Molybdenum" on Tuesday, October 6, at 11 a.m. in Bertrand H. Snell Hall Room 214.

Monday’s presentation will be preceded by a 3:30 p.m. reception.

The event is sponsored by Clarkson’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP), with support from the Shipley Family Foundation. The public is cordially invited to attend.

Lectureship organizer Egon Matijević, Victor K. LaMer Professor of Colloid and Surface Science, says that he tries to find Shipley lecturers who are not only noted for their scientific contributions, but who also have interesting hobbies or extracurricular activities. Schrock has an interest in woodworking, which was instilled in him at a young age by his father.

In 2005, Schrock received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with Robert H. Grubbs and Yves Chauvin, for his work in the area of olefin metathesis, an organic synthesis technique. Schrock was the first to elucidate the structure and mechanism of so called ’black box’ olefin metathesis catalysts.

Organic substances contain the element carbon. Carbon atoms can form long chains and rings, bind other elements such as hydrogen and oxygen, form double bonds, etc. All life on Earth is based on these carbon compounds, but they can also be produced artificially through organic synthesis.

The word metathesis means ’change-places’. In metathesis reactions, double bonds are broken and made between carbon atoms in ways that cause atom groups to change places. This happens with the assistance of special catalyst molecules. Metathesis can be compared to a dance in which the couples change partners.

Fantastic opportunities have been created by metathesis for producing many new molecules, like pharmaceuticals.

Schrock was born in Berne, Ind., and holds an A.B. degree (1967) from the University of California, Riverside and a Ph. D. (1971) from Harvard University. At Harvard he studied under John Osborn. In 1971-72, he carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of Cambridge, England, with Lord Jack Lewis. In 1972, he was hired by DuPont, where he worked at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Del. He joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975.

He has held his current post, the Frederick G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry, since 1989. Schrock is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and was elected to the Board of Overseers of Harvard University in 2007.

Schrock and his wife, Nancy, the Thomas F. Peterson, Jr. Conservator of Special Collections for the MIT Libraries, live in Winchester, Mass.

The Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series was initiated in 1994 through a generous gift from Lucia and the late Charles Shipley through the Shipley Family Foundation. Over that period distinguished speakers from around the world, including six Nobel Laureates -- soon to be seven--, have presented talks.

The purpose of the lectures is to promote scholarly achievements at Clarkson by providing the opportunity for idea exchange and active learning, as well as allowing undergraduate and graduate students to meet the most prestigious speakers from all over the world.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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